Outdoor murals make the best backdrops for selfies, right? Standing in front of angel wings, or next to an oversized postcard, or standing on the brink of a deep canyon…it’s so much fun! To some, that may be the biggest reason and only purpose for having them, but murals are a very important art medium, possibly the best way to make a big impression quickly and with high visibility. I say—we need more of them.
"Color Me Cruces" mural, a very popular backdrop, is painted on a private property wall in downtown Las Cruces. Pictured Left to Right: Artists Aaron Valenzuela, Anahy Nunez, and Christina Ballew. photo credit: Downtown Las Cruces Partnership
I love the variety of styles in our city’s murals which range from urban street art to historical storytelling to whimsical art. Most are two-dimensional (2-D), but my favorite style is 3-D art murals that trick the eye into seeing something that’s not actually there, like a hand coming out of a wall or a hole in the ground. I would love to see more of this type of art done in Las Cruces. Wouldn’t it be fun to see water cascading down the outdoor staircase at the library? Or possibly a bank of meter boxes camouflaged as slithering rattlesnakes.
3-D Tennis Ball Mural painted on exterior wall of Laabs Pool near tennis courts in Lions Park. The mural project was done through the Parks & Recreation Summer Mural Program. photo credit: Karla Walton
There is value in murals. They can activate a space and attract people to that location almost from the moment of beginning the project. They can also establish the identity of a place. Murals can unite communities. And for artists, the creative possibilities of this form of expression are limitless.
I admire the talented local artist community that creates most of the mural artworks in town. With an artist pool of this potential, it’s exciting to imagine how we might create an organized mural art program that will shape future projects in neighborhoods that need an art presence, incorporate mural art into rehabilitation projects (the Campo Street project comes to mind), do more ArtScape projects (which created the art wrapped utility boxes in the downtown area) to beautify other areas of the city. I can also appreciate how non-local artists can be important to the conversation with their unique perspective, exchange of ideas or collaboration. Endless potential is the superpower of murals.
"Tierra Sagrada" mural was a collaborative project between Cruces Creatives and the City of Las Cruces. It was painted by community members lead by El Paso artist Eugenia A.O. Carmona and is located at Thomas Branigan Memorial Library amphitheater. photo credit: Karla Walton
"Evolution of Loss" is located on a building located in the Hadley Sports Complex. It was designed by artists Sean Carpenter and Shaunna Foster with help from participants of the Summer Mural Program in 2019. photo credit: Karla Walton
Because murals typically exist on average from five to ten years, the medium can be considered a revolving art exhibit. Some are intentionally fabricated to last much longer. The longer the mural’s life span, the more detailed the materials, and the requirement to refresh and revitalize them from time to time. The rest are enjoyed until their time comes to be retired, when they are preserved in photos for eternity, and a new mural project takes their spot. This revolving art exhibit changes the city’s landscape continuously. Call me crazy but that sounds like a lot of fun.
"When Trees Play" is a permanent tiled mural on the entry wall of the Armando "Mondy" Castaneda Services Center in the Hadley Sports Complex. It was designed by artists Lorenzo Zepeda and Marguerita Paz-Pedro and installed with the help of the Parks and Recreation Summer Mural Program in 2017. photo credit: Karla Walton
The Trivez multi-use trail section that runs under I-25 has walls that feature murals depicting landmarks, local vegetation, and animal life in bold, bright colors. The mural was a Youth Conservation Corp project in partnership with the Keep Las Cruces Beautiful program. The art work was designed by YCC crew members under the leadership of artist Laramie Medina. photo credit: Karla Walton
Rubber Ducks blog is brought to you by the Las Cruces Public Art program to share ideas, information, discussions, trends and all things public art. Please send comments and ideas for future blogs to PublicArt@las-cruces.org